Yesterday the pastor at the church where we're attending (yes, we still are "attending"; not yet "joining"--darn that church-shopping) did a great job unpacking the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16. This is by far the most challenging-to-understand piece of teaching Jesus ever did. [NOTE: I've always thought the easy-to-understand teachings of Jesus were the most challenging to follow, but this one is tough to even know what he was teaching.] Here's the basic story: a steward, responsible for managing the master's business affairs, is accused of wrongdoing. The master calls him in and fires him, once he gives a report on his accounts. As Matt said, this was not a matter of pulling up an Excel spreadsheet or a Quickbooks report. This was a process that would take weeks to pull together.
The steward was your typical metrosexual. He knew he couldn't do manual labor, and he wasn't about to start begging. So he developed a plan. And that plan involved stewarding relationships. In a nutshell, he calls in several wealthy people who owe his master some money, writes down their debts, and makes them much more likely to help him when he and his family are out of a job and income.
The master hears all that, and "commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness." Then Jesus says the challenging comment and command: "For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings."
As Matt shared, the point of this parable is that the steward was given a gift by his master, the gift of seeing that someday soon he would give an account for his work. Jesus says that you and I will have to give an account too, but we "sons of light" don't live like we know we will give an account. We don't steward our relationships in light of the Master's examination near the way the "sons of this world" do when their bosses ask them for an account.
We are saved by grace, but we do give an account for what we have done with what God gave us to steward in this life. If we are faithful in little things, we will be faithful in much, and God will make us faithful in much.
So this morning my daughter is a little sick, and we kept her home from school and I'm gonna take her to the doctor in a few minutes. This whole conversation of how I steward relationships hits me hard lately, especially as I steward my own family relationships. I'm in a new job, I'm traveling a ton, and my wife is working full-time in a paid job for the first time in 10 years. The stewardship of our relationships has gotten a lot harder. Or at least more complex. And if I had a "regular" job maybe it would be different, but I think it's even more challenging when your work is "ministry."
I'm planning to take some serious time over this holiday season to evaluate my family relationships, and think about how I have to one day give an account for how I steward them. Let's hope that my account is worthy of the gospel.